Millions of years ago, some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, volcanic activity created the Galapagos Islands. There are 13 major islands and dozens of smaller islets. On these islands the wind and sea brought seeds which settled and grew. Finally, an unusual collection of birds and animals flew, swam, or floated to the islands. Scientists claimed 47% of the plants grew nowhere else and 97% of the reptiles were found no place else on earth.
It is one thing to read about the islands but it is a totally different experience to actually explore them. It’s possible to take a variety of cruises on a wide range of boats. The word “cruise” brings to mind images of luxury, wealth and comfort. That wasn’t my boat. Nope, I didn’t have any of that. But, the sites to behold were priceless.
were close enough to have some similarities but far enough apart to
have unique differences. It was those difference that inspired
Charles Darwin. Some of my favorite experiences were snorkeling.
In the water sea lions danced their underwater ballet on all sides of
me. They were as curious about me as I was about them. They
even brushed across my legs. Nobody told them they couldn’t
touch the humans, but every visitor knew they were not supposed to touch
outside of Devil's Crown. It was the top of a volcano that partly
stuck out of the water. I snorkeled inside the crown taking in
all the coral, fish, and starfish. I didn't leave the circle because
outside the crater were sharks. I didn’t know why the sharks
didn’t enter the crown. I was pleased that they didn’t.
I mean, really, who wants to swim with sharks?
It was a
I was so mad at that sea lion.
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending, but it took me 25 years to get back to Bartolome Island and its penguins!
I remembered the penguins as very shy. Perhaps the flood of tourists with snorkel gear over the years had one good side effect. The penguins seemed very used to visitors. As I snorkeled around Pinnacle Rock, I spotted a couple on the shore. I decided to see how close I could get by water. As quietly as possible, I reached the very rock where they preened themselves. I stood by the rock (well, I tried to but it was difficult to fight the ebb and flow of the water) for ten minutes. That process was made even more difficult with bulky fins on my feet and volcanic rock that sliced away at grasping fingers. Observing was easier when I moved closer and sat by the rock. Since the two preeners were not in the least bit concerned about my presence, I next moved on to the very rock for an even closer look. They were within petting distance (which I wouldn’t consider doing). I sat there with them for a magical ten minutes. Finally, one of them slipped into the water and was soon followed by the other. It was time for me to head back around the Pinnacle.
|Copyright 2011 and 2012 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.|